Why didn't Terry Pull?
by Jan Meyer
Suppose you're on a tandem jump with one of your teammates. You're his passenger. He's been with this world championship team for quite some time. He has 4000 jumps. You only have 2000. He's a trusted friend, an excellent jumper and very aware of time and altitude on every jump. You agree to do a tandem jump with him because you know he'll do everything humanly possible to land himself and you safely. You trust him with your life.
Terry Dean probably trusted Dave Wilds with his life, as much as the rest of us trust airline pilots with our lives. Do you think whuffos trust their tandem masters in much the same way?
The amount of training, education and experience tandem masters receive doesn't approach the amount commercial airline pilots receive. One day it may, but right now tandem jumping is in the experimental stages of development. This fact should be strongly implanted into the minds of all tandem masters and conveyed to passengers.
Passengers should know how to pull the reserve. They should know below what altitude they should pull the reserve. They don't need to know the reason you, as the tandem master, didn't pull. Just tell your passenger to pull the reserve if he finds himself in freefall below 2000 feet. Find out why later.
Originally published in Sport Parachutist's Safety Journal V1, #3 Sept./Oct. 1988.
Dedicated to enhancing sport parachuting safety by disseminating information about equipment, environments and human factors.